A virtual private network (VPN) is a service that has been specifically designed so that you are able to access the internet in a secure and safe way by routing your online connection through a server.
This is the basic explanation of what a VPN and what advantages it offers and here is a more detailed explanation of how it works and what it can do for you when you sign up to a VPN service using discount offers for IPvanish, for example.
How it works
It helps to have a basic understanding of how a VPN works so that you know what it is doing for you and what you are paying for when you pay to gain access to the web in this way.
Once you have installed your VPN client software you are ready to connect to the internet by starting your software and clicking to make the connection.
As soon as you take this action and connect to the internet via your VPN connection the software will immediately start to encrypt your data, even before you have made the connection to your internet service provider (ISP).
This data is sent to the VPN and it is this connection that is viewed by the online destination and not your personal IP address, providing you with a degree of anonymity and security because the VPN prevents your computer identification and location from being revealed.
A question of security
The fundamental question that many people ask when they are considering using a VPN service is how secure is the service?
There are two critical factors that help to determine the answer to that question.
The security of your VPN is dictated by the level of VPN technology being used, so the smarter the tech, the greater the security.
Also, there are certain legal and policy limitations that VPN service providers have to adhere to, depending on the region in the world where the service is based.
It can get a bit technical when it comes to talking about the various VPN protocols that are available but it is worth remembering that it is these protocols that are used to determine how the service processes data.
Picking the best protocol
Probably the best thing to remember if you want to cut through all the jargon is that an OpenVPN protocol is widely considered to be the most versatile and secure of all the different options.
In simple terms, the more secure the protocol is that you use to connect to the internet the more secure your session is likely to be.
However, one caveat to this generalization is that not all devices will permit you access to all of these protocol options and it might be the case that some operating systems only allow you to use certain default protocols.
You can expect all reputable VPN companies to be diligent when it comes to protecting your data and privacy, and you should be mindful of the fact that using a VPN does not make you completely anonymous.
However, what a VPN can do for you in terms of security and anonymity is much more impressive than if you were using an open connection, which is why it is such a hot topic that plenty of us are talking about.